This 2003 release by Troika Games combines a classic "first edition" Advanced Dungeons & Dragons module with the updated "3.5 Edition" rule set, for a single-player home computer adventure designed to emulate the flexibility and freedom of pen-and-paper-style D&D gaming. Though at first glance this game may be reminiscent of the developer's acclaimed Arcanum, Temple of Elemental Evil is based on a new game engine. Graphics feature three-dimensional characters against pre-rendered backgrounds, viewed from an isometric perspective. Combat is turn-based, but character actions and spell effects are fluidly animated. Troika's aim has been to create a game as faithful to the core Dungeons & Dragons rules as possible. Even the most minor diversions from the story or system (usually made to reconcile the original AD&D module with the newer rule set) are noted in the documentation, so as not to surprise any hardcore tabletop role-players.
In the spirit of the D&D game, Troika has made efforts to ensure that gamers will be able to role-play their characters as they please, with as few story-based restrictions as possible. Players choose their party's alignment according to the classic D&D grid that charts good, evil, lawful, and chaotic tendencies. The storyline is designed to account for any of these choices from the start. Not only do player character ethics steer the party down different branches of the storyline, but they determine where the story begins. Players can create and play up to five characters, and all the main races and classes featured in the 3.5 Edition Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook are available. The party can also contain as many as three NPCs, who will act autonomously according to their own alignments and motivations.
The original "Temple of Elemental Evil" module was written by D&D creator Gary Gygax and Frank Metzner for use with the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules, and was released in 1985. Like the pen-and-paper adventure, this PC version of Temple of Elemental Evil is set in the Greyhawk campaign world, which was also created by Gygax. Aside from the obvious differences in history and culture, veterans of D&D games set in the Forgotten Realms universe (such as BioWare's Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights) may notice that magic use is a little less common among the people of Greyhawk (and perhaps a little more notable when it occurs). Certain peripheral characters and historical events mentioned in this game may be familiar to those who have visited the world of Greyhawk in the past.
As the story goes, a demoness and her cult once experimented with evil in its most elemental forms, many years ago in temple near the village of Hommlet. The cult grew in power, and soon ruled over the land with great cruelty, until the forces of Good banded together and rose up against their oppressors. The temple was destroyed, and peace was restored -- until now. Reports of bandit attacks have become more common in Hommlet lately, and rumors hint of deeper threats, which may somehow involve the ruins of the old temple. Yet fate has also brought new adventurers to the village, who may be able to stand against this evil -- or co-opt its power for their own use. It remains to be seen whether these strangers will bring salvation or enslavement to the simple folk of Hommlet.
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